Human coronaviruses, represented by the two prototype strains HCV-OC43 and HCV-229E, are important human respiratory pathogens, also associated with necrotizing enterocolitis. Two previous studies, one describing the electron microscopic observation of doughnut-shaped particles, resembling coronaviruses, in a perivascular inflammatory lesion of brain tissue taken at autopsy from a multiple sclerosis patient, and the other one reporting the isolation of coronaviruses from the brains of two multiple sclerosis patients, suggested the possible association between coronaviruses and human demyelinating diseases. We analysed polyadenylated RNAs extracted from cerebrospinal fluid of twenty randomly selected multiple sclerosis patients and ten patients with other neurological diseases (medullary atrophy, Parkinson's disease, polyneuropathy, senile dementia, headache and toxic polyneuropathy) by reverse transcription and polymerase chain reaction searching for HCV-OC43 and HCV-229E sequences. By hybridization analysis of amplification products, we detected HCV-OC43 polyadenylated RNAs in ten specimens of patients with multiple sclerosis. Furthermore, we found positive hybridization signals for HCV-OC43 in the other neurological diseases, except for the toxic polyneuropathy specimen. Positivity for HCV-229E was observed in seven specimens of multiple sclerosis cerebrospinal fluid; one headache cerebrospinal fluid and the medullary atrophy specimen also resulted positive for HCV-229E. Moreover, using a solid phase technique, we report for the first time the sequence of a cDNA fragment derived from RNA extracted from cerebrospinal fluid of multiple sclerosis patient, belonging to the open reading frame which codes for the HCV-OC43 nucleoprotein N. Furthermore, cDNA sequences revealed the presence of a mixed viral population.